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When Emojis Speak Louder Than Words

How incorporating bite-sized graphics into your conversation can help connect us more to others who may not be feeling :)
emoji check in

On any given day, over 700 million emojis are used in Facebook posts alone. With almost 3,000 emojis to use, we have a lot of ways to incorporate these bite-sized graphics into our everyday text conversations. As emoji use becomes the norm, are there ways we can use emojis to express our feelings and even help connect us more to others who may not be feeling :)?

When you're feeling at your lowest, it can be hard to put how you're feeling into words. Sometimes the energy of explaining how you feel is just too much. Maybe all you can manage is the standard "I'm fine," while secretly hoping your friend who asked can see that no, you really are not fine.

The importance of visual cues

When words fail to inform us of the full picture, we turn to visual cues. With face-to-face communication, we are treated to a variety of non-verbal cues such as tone of voice and body language. The words and the non-verbal cues are then downloaded into your brain's internal calculator so you can interpret that someone saying, "I'm fine," coupled with crying and a shaky voice, probably means "not fine."

In our online world, emojis serve as a substitute for face-to-face communication and help bridge the gap between text and visual cues.

Emoji Check-Ins

Personally, what catches my eye in particular is when organizations like The Mighty take to social media to post �Emoji Check-Ins' which ask followers to describe how they're feeling through an emoji. Here's an example of how 7 Cups uses this concept:

emoji check in

This approach is similar to the pain chart doctors often use when asking a patient to describe the level of pain. If you're not sure how to express how you're feeling, try starting with one emoji. It's a temperature check that allows you to see how others are feeling in a quick and easily digestible way. With one emoji, it can become clear that you are not alone.

In the example above, what do you think the majority of users responded with? Over half of the users who responded chose the black heart to indicate they don't know how they're feeling. I can't help but wonder if those users would have shared anything about how they were feeling that day if the option of the black heart was removed. Perhaps they wouldn't have felt comfortable enough to share anything at all.

Next time a friend responds with the standard "I'm fine," consider rephrasing your question to, "What emoji are you feeling right now?" You may be surprised at the answer.

For more support, take our free wellness quiz, join our empathetic community, chat with a trained listener, or start affordable online therapy today.


Posted: 09 July 2019
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Kate Mallow

Kate Mallow is the Social Media Manager for the National Council for Behavioral Health and has personal mental health experience.

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